No. 169 - Maitland Street Seventh Day Adventist Church - From Jiale to Joe's

The 7th Day Adventist’s presence in Tasmania began in 1888 with tent meetings held in Hobart. By 1894, Adventist mission activity had begun in Launceston:

“[They] have pitched their camp on the vacant piece of ground adjoining the Oxford Chambers, Brisbane-street, where they hold their first meeting this evening at half-past seven. A commodious tent has been erected which will accommodate at least two hundred people, comfortably seated, and provided with Rochester lamps for lighting and a small organ… The missionaries will probably spend a couple of months in Launceston, and they are hopeful of success”.

The Adventist did meet with some success and there are reports of camp meetings held in several locations across the city over the next decade, including at Inveresk Park and near the Sand Hill tram terminus at Glen Dhu. Regular Adventist services were also held in the Temperance Hall in York Street.

In 1903, the Adventists built their first church in South Launceston on Maitland Street, which was dedicated on April 26th by Pastor Farnsworth of Melbourne.

The Launceston church, like most Adventist congregations, sponsored mission activity overseas. In 1928 the Examiner reported on a Fijian chief visiting Launceston:

“Ratu Jiale Tikowale, is at present visiting Tasmania so that people may judge for themselves the results obtained by the missionaries. Jiale, which is said to be the native way of spelling Charlie, is accompanied by Mr. H. R. Steed, headmaster of the Wainibuka school at Fiji, who is acting as interpreter, Jiale being unable to speak English sufficiently well enough to hold a conversation…. [he] is a well known chief in the district of Lau, in the island of Lakeba, one of the Fiji group, and is a native of high influence in his district. He is the owner of copra lands, and has been a very active missionary worker in connection with the Seventh Day Adventist Mission in Fiji. He has by his own efforts built a church in the group, and devotes a great deal of time to his missionary activities”.

The work of Ratu Jiale Tikowale and the Adventists resulted in considerable success in Fiji as the denomination now comprises up to 6% of the Christian population of that county.

To support the Adventist ethos of a vegetarian diet, a health food shop was opened in Launceston in 1902 . The Sanitarium Health Food Company operated a factory in Derwent Park from 1949 to 1992 to support Tasmania’s Adventist communities.

The church in Maitland Street thrived and was extended in 1944. However, this building was outgrown and the Seventh Day Adventist Church now operates from Talbot Street in South Launceston.

The Maitland Street church is now the home of St Joe’s Big Band, Australia’s oldest band, which began life as the St Joseph’s Total Abstinence Society, associated with St Joseph’s, Launceston’s first Catholic Church.

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018
Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018

Photograph: Duncan Grant 2018
The Seventh Day Adventist Church now located in Talbot Road. Photo - Duncan Grant - 2018

The Old Temperance Hall in York Street where Adventist services were held before the Maitland street Church was built. The York Street Baptist Chapel may be seen on the right. Source: Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office: LPIC22-1-86

Fiji Chiefs in Washington Ratu Jiali Tikowale and Satakari Cevaca sing a native serenade (Getty Images)


Launceston Examiner Thursday 6 December 1894, page 7
Daily Telegraph Saturday 4 May, 1895, page 5 (Religious Notices)
Daily Telegraph Tuesday 19 February 1901, page 2
Examiner Saturday 25 April 1903, page 6 (advertisement)
North Western Advocate and Emu Bay Times, Wednesday 29 November 1911
Daily Telegraph Wednesday 12 August 1925, page 6
Examiner Monday 30 January 1928, page 7


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